California’s plan to reduce prison overcrowding is now in the hands of a panel of federal judges. The state submitted its plan Tuesday after the U-S Supreme Court ordered the prison population to be reduced by tens of thousands within two years. The cornerstone of the plan is Governor Brown’s realignment proposal, which would send state prisoners to county jails. But, that proposal has no long-term funding source.
Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate says the state doesn’t have the time to wait for voters to approve a permanent funding source in a fall special election. So the inmate shift would begin if lawmakers temporarily extend tax increases as part of a budget deal.
“Assuming that the current tax structure is extended, we will start realignment as soon as there’s funding and as soon as we decide – along with our law enforcement partners – that we’re ready to embark on this safely,” said Cate. “That’s when we’ll start.”
But if realignment starts and then the tax extensions fail, there’s no fallback plan. “We would have to find another source of funding,” says Cate, “because it’s really gonna be difficult to back off realignment once you start.”
And Cate says he doesn’t know what that other funding source might be.
The administration’s other strategies to reduce overcrowding include more prison construction and increasing the number of inmates in out-of-state facilities.